Evening Storm

I want to paint the livingness of appearances.
            —Marsden Hartley

What of these evening storms
where foam becomes rock—wave
becomes cove. Inside the billow as
you always dreamed it would be
two men collapse into being.
Like so, the rocks give up their
solid stance. If Hart threw
himself from ship to sea, how
can you, Hartley, hardly alive
in this solitude, not find his
eye inside of you. There is a crest
a recurring tall wave that comes
for you. So little light gets through
other than in sea foam your desire
knit to storm—here is your Maine mountain where the upsurge
the passional thrust gets through.
 

More by Sharon Dolin

Avoid Adapting Other People's Negative Views


                          after Epictetus
                      

To gaze upon the fatal
without commiserating gloom:
 
what every friend should be—
not one who rends her coat of doom
 
nor one who lets her ankle rankle
nor her dogged love to the hounds.          
 
Be the cat in catastrophe
who survives eight more dives.
 
Though in the clutch of damage
a dame must age,
 
in the crazy-quilt of guilt
it was never your fault.
 
In the company of morose
always pull out the rose.

Know how to forget

                after Baltasar Gracián

To let your sorrows wear you
             like a hair shirt       shake
off       each foulard around your

neck       unwind and fling
            as from a moving car.
Be no Isadora strangled by her

flare. Be bare-necked and do not
             forget to forget.
Though every silver lining has

a cloud       live within the glint of white 
            fire       the swing set in the sunset
the dimple in each smile        embraces

by the silver lake      ocean
            hush of oh so much
so lush.

Related Poems

The Sea Is History

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that grey vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.

First, there was the heaving oil,
heavy as chaos;
then, like a light at the end of a tunnel,

the lantern of a caravel,
and that was Genesis.
Then there were the packed cries,
the shit, the moaning:

Exodus.
Bone soldered by coral to bone,
mosaics
mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow,

that was the Ark of the Covenant.
Then came from the plucked wires
of sunlight on the sea floor

the plangent harps of the Babylonian bondage,
as the white cowries clustered like manacles
on the drowned women,

and those were the ivory bracelets
of the Song of Solomon,
but the ocean kept turning blank pages

looking for History.
Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors
who sank without tombs,

brigands who barbecued cattle,
leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,
then the foaming, rabid maw

of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,
and that was Jonah,
but where is your Renaissance?

Sir, it is locked in them sea-sands
out there past the reef's moiling shelf,
where the men-o'-war floated down;

strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself.
It's all subtle and submarine,
through colonnades of coral,

past the gothic windows of sea-fans
to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,
blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;

and these groined caves with barnacles
pitted like stone
are our cathedrals,

and the furnace before the hurricanes:
Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills
into marl and cornmeal,

and that was Lamentations—
that was just Lamentations,
it was not History;

then came, like scum on the river's drying lip,
the brown reeds of villages
mantling and congealing into towns,

and at evening, the midges' choirs,
and above them, the spires
lancing the side of God

as His son set, and that was the New Testament.

Then came the white sisters clapping
to the waves' progress,
and that was Emancipation—

jubilation, O jubilation—
vanishing swiftly
as the sea's lace dries in the sun,

but that was not History,
that was only faith,
and then each rock broke into its own nation;

then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,

fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,

and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns

and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo

of History, really beginning.